Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

Basic HTML Version

2 2
e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language
The Thesaurus paved the way for that gigantic enterprise,
the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, the first volume of
which has just come off the press. Modeled somewhat on the
Oxford English Dictionary, this is a veritable treasury of Yiddish
of a ll ages and all territories. In 1952 Mr. Stutchkoff sent a
memorandum to the executive board of the Yivo Institute for
Jewish Research to the effect that he had the material for a new
Yiddish dictionary and requested the Institute to undertake its
publication. The Yivo commissioned Mr. Yudel Mark, then a
member of the Commission on Research, to become acquainted
with the material. A fte r a thorough study Mr. Mark submitted
a positive report. However, in view of the magnitude of the task
the Yivo was not sure that it could undertake its implementa­
tion then and there. A provisional committee for the publication
of the new dictionary was then formed, whose members included
among others the late S. Niger, Dr. Jacob Shatzky, and Tsivyon.
The provisional committee appointed an editorial board, which
was ratified by the executive board of the Yivo.
In Ap ril 1953 the first conference of the Great Dictionary of
the Yiddish Language was called. A t this conference an ad­
m inistrative committee was elected, w ith Dr. Sol Liptzin as
chairman. Other members of the committee were H. A. Ab ram ­
son, Lipa Lehrer, and Israel Steinbaum. A call was sent out to
correspondents the world over to help in the great task. From
the most distant corners of the world over 200 correspondents,
some of whom have long passed the scriptural lim itation set for
life, responded with enthusiasm. They helped bring the card
index to nearly 180,000 units, held in store for the coming
The first volume, which forms roughly one-tenth of the
planned dictionary, has over 16,000 words and covers only part
of the letter aleph. The work is considerably more than a
dictionary. In some respects it partakes of the characteristics of
an encyclopedia. Its praises, or otherwise, let others speak.